ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Putin Over War Crimes in Ukraine

On Friday, March 17, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of war crimes for overseeing the unlawful abduction and deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.[0] This move comes after a US-backed report by Yale University last month found that Russia had held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in at least 43 camps and other facilities as part of a “large-scale systematic network”.[1]

The ICC statement stated that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children.”[2] The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued warrants for the arrest of both President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's commissioner for children's rights, due to their unlawful deportation and transportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.[3]

The Kremlin reacted to the arrest warrant by saying that Russia does not recognize the ICC and considers its decisions “legally void”.[1] Russia is not a member state of the ICC, and it is unlikely that Putin will face any consequences for this warrant.[4] The ICC has no jurisdiction in Russia, and no police force with which to enforce arrests.[5]

However, the US has determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, and Poland has announced that it will be sending at least four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.[6] The ICC investigations into Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine continue, and the court has taken a first step towards accountability with the arrest warrant.[7] It remains to be seen what further actions can be taken to ensure that breaches of international norms, ruthless unprovoked invasions, committing of war crimes, and genocide will not be tolerated by the international community.[8]

0. “International Criminal Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Putin for War Crimes” Bloomberg, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-17/international-court-issues-warrant-for-putin-for-war-crime

1. “Biden says Putin has ‘clearly committed war crimes’ and ICC charges are justified” The Independent, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/putin-war-crimes-ukraine-icc-hague-b2303380.html

2. “Russia: ICC's arrest warrant against Putin is a step towards justice” Amnesty International, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/03/russia-iccs-arrest-warrant-against-putin-step-towards-justice

3. “Friday’s Mini-Report, 3.17.23” MSNBC, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/fridays-mini-report-31723-rcna75547

4. “Will Vladimir Putin Actually Be Arrested for ICC Warrant?” TIME, 17 Mar. 2023, https://time.com/6264280/vladimir-putin-icc-warrant-arrest/

5. “International war crime authorities want to arrest Putin” Quartz, 17 Mar. 2023, https://qz.com/icc-putin-ukraine-russia-hague-war-crime-1850238534

6. “Will Vladimir Putin ever face a war crimes trial?” BBC, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-64994992

7. “Vladimir Putin: Wanted by ICC for Crimes Against Children” Center for European Policy Analysis, 17 Mar. 2023, https://cepa.org/article/wanted-for-crimes-against-children-vladimir-putin/

8. “US Biden says war crimes charge against Russia’s Putin justified” Al Jazeera English, 18 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/18/us-biden-says-war-crime-charges-against-russias-putin-justified

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